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Saturday, August 29, 2009


Back to violence. Now there is splashy violence and then there is insidious,evil violence. They are two different things. One is subtle, the other is not. Insidious violence occurs in your life every day. Do you see it? Or are you blind and asleep?

An example of terrible violence done to a soul is in the first scene. Waltz knows that his dairy farmer peasant victim has hidden the family of Jews. He knows it in his gut because he connects lots of dots. The way the UC Berkeley officer knew something was wrong with the two children which led to Jaycee's rescue after eighteen years of hell. Now there's a case of both kinds of evil. Her daughters sound autistic. Who will rescue them?

But back to the first scene of IB. Landa knows and he could just simply have his officers rape the farmer's daughters, torture them in front of him until he tells, shoot them all, whatever. But no, he sits down to drink a glass of fresh milk, chat a little over tobacco, and squeeze more fear into his victim. Because the farmer knows he knows but hopes he doesn't. His careful performance is perfection. His eyes get stony with protective cover. He sweats and Christoph Waltz watches with pleasure and he tightens his hold. They speak English, so the Jews underneath won't understand. He reaches a climax where he tells him ever so charmingly that he can take his family in for interrogation or he can just indicate with a nod where they are hiding. The French peasant is known for his astuteness, and this one needs no prodding. He knows what will happen to his young and beautiful daughters. He knows the Jews down below are doomed anyway. Now he is being asked to become a collaborator, to sully his soul, to do such a despicable act that he will forever torture himself afterward. (Think Sophie's Choice.) Now this is violence. He is asking him to be Judas. His reward is not 30 pieces of silver, but the safety of his daughters. He can berate himself the rest of his life by weighing the two alternatives and BTW Corrie Ten Boom had Jews hidden in her house walls and wouldn't tell and she and her family and all the Jews went to a camp. But that's another story.

Waltz is the devil in real life. He is offering a deal to Faust. Sort of. And he has destroyed a human being for the rest of his life.

That is violence, pure and simple. It is the kind of violence you will come up against again and again in your life. Will you recognize it? Will you be able to resist? Will you cave in, compromise, just what will you do? We are seeing this with our charming President Obama. So far he is compromising with insidious evil. He is asleep I think.Will he wake up? Dunno.

Visual violence has already corrupted us. It is too late now to undo the desensitization process. Only when it is someone we love will it cut us to pieces. Willem Dafoe's wife Elizabeth almost threw up watching his death in Platoon.

So one cannot protest violence in a Tarantino film unless one has confronted his depiction of real, total, unrelenting torture and violence of the soul.

The fiery holocaust of the Nazis can be viewed as a template of the JFK assassination, so follow me to Part 8.

Jaycee Dugard Incompetent Searchers Responsible Not

Actually the sheriff and police, the parole officers and deputies are not really responsible for not finding her and getting her home. A neighbor called in about women and children in the back yard, saying he was a sex offender and demanding they do something about these people living in the backyard. So the deputy goes and doesn't know he's a sex offender and doesn't look in the backyard. This is not because he is stupid. This is because there is a lack of communication, an inability to connect the dots. Think 9-11 for a minute and Condi's whod a thunk someone would fly an airplane into a building utterance of inanity? Just Arnold and a couple of Hollywood directors, that's who. Ever go to the movies, girl?

The same deficiency operates in the search for Jaycee. That blindness to connect clues. Maybe reading Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie should be required reading for professional sleuths. I prefer Maigret myself.

It is the fault of our educational system. There is an emphasis on obedience, not questioning. Question Authority is a great t-shirt to wear. People get upset with it and think you are a liberal radical. Well, you are. It's the only thing that is going to rescue us from dumbness, our cultural way of life.

Now we have two women at UC Berkeley seeing that the two girls are behaving strangely when Garrido comes to get a permit to pass out religious literature. Campbell gets Jacobs to run a background check and they find out he's a sexual offender. (This is after Campbell, stalling him, has told him to come back on Tuesday for the permit. I wonder if Campbell was afraid to see him alone?)Both women are there Tuesday and this is how they report some of what they noticed.

According to Jacobs, both daughters were robotic, extremely pale to the point of being almost gray, and with non-responsive bright blue eyes. The 15 year old was first seen staring up at the sky.

Well now, with both of these women in mother mode,(their choice of words) the dots are starting to be connected. Calling the parole officer he says, "but he doesn't have any daughters", the light is turning on. Garrido brings Jaycee (Alyssia) to the parole officer's office on Wednesday with the two children (she is his wife and the mother and now he trusts her) and the cat is out of the bag when they question Jaycee. Evidently she has never learned to lie. That was probably one of the things that saved her. She had no treachery in her soul, unlike our Huckleberry Finn, who prizes the ability to deceive when necessary.

But it is the two women with their intuitive faculties still not suppressed that open the window for Jaycee's escape.

Americans are so unable to connect dots that it has become a national liability and will lead to our disintegration along the lines of Toynbee's thesis of disintegrating civilizations. It has prompted me here to review Inglourious Basterds in order to defend Tarantino. All the reviews are mostly clueless reporting the plot only or tearing Tarantino to shreds. Just like now we know the plot of Jaycee's abduction, the incompetent search, the fixation on the stepfather (shades of the Ramseys)and 18 years of unobservant, clueless observation of Phillip Garrido. I do not blame these men. I meet them all the time, everywhere I go. People are asleep. They look and do not see.

Campbell is wasted issuing permits. She needs to be at a high government level. She sees. She connects signs and clues. She intuits, she interprets. But she attributes her ability to do this as being a mother. That is she has been an observant mother, which is not the same thing. She is exercising her full human capabilities for thinking creatively and correctly. How great that the parole officer remembered he didn't have any children thus turning his mind up a few notches.

For more of the heart of the story see; http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20301301,00.htm


As violence and revenge are projected as themes and disavowed by Mark Blankenship, he comes to the scene of Shosanna's death. The hero German soldier who has been turned into a movie star (Daniel Bruehl)who has been chasing Shosanna in an adolescent way, procuring her theatre for the Nazi event and the premiere of his movie debut, enters the projection room as her film is playing on reel 3 where she tells the Nazis it is all over for them and they will die. Now here is Tarantino's salute to another grand opera of treachery, Tosca. Buehl is the modern day police chief Scarpia and she is Tosca. He has come to claim her in all his movie star image of himself. She is not impressed as usual. She sees his intent to force her, tells him to shut the door almost seductively. He falters and she repeats her command. As he turns she shoots him in the back a few times. She has kissed her black lover goodbye as they both will burn in the holocaust of fire. She goes to the body and here Tarantino twists the old cliche of the corpse arising to be killed again. He does but he shoots her. Just like Gregory Peck does to Jennifer Jones in Duel in the Sun but this is a more classical scene. They both lie sprawled across the floor apart in death and we have the ending of Tosca. It is beautiful and classical and a salute to high culture as Rienzi has prepared us. The flames behind the screen as Shosanna laughs and laughs and laughs in her film is another tribute to grand opera.

By now you know I am deconstructing this film on the fly. The more one thinks about it the more there is to think about. You take from a Tarantino film what you bring to a Tarantino film. And that is his gift to us. If all you bring to it is red then that's what you leave with. Not a shabby thing at all. Something that has made you see a bit differently from usual. The juxtaposition of the two women is glorious. One is the actress, the other has in real life assumed heroic proportions so as to appear a giantess, to have overcome her terror and fear. Someone said, courage is the action you take when you are terrified. The first encounter with Lantz she ran away with terrified wings on her feet. This time she has confronted all of them holding her ground by burning her theatre down, igniting an antique collection of flammable film. I want to tell you from experience, a small amount of film on fire will burn a small house down like you wouldn't believe.

Still more on the fiery holocaust.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Here's another one at Huff Po: http://tinyurl.com/md3uda which is better than the others. But still not enough to shut me up. It is again all about violence Tarantino style. Tarantino says violence is like a color, and that's the way he uses it. It is not supposed to frighten and shake you to the core. You are to look at it like a movie, like TV. As he says about 9-11 it didn't affect him. He had seen planes crash into buildings in movies. There is an early Arnold flick where a young boy flying a plane crashes into a high (not a skyscraper) building to commit suicide. This was way before 9-11. Military and domestic intelligence need to use the minds of its imaginative thinkers to predict future attacks. But then there would be so many choices they would get confused. Not Condi Rice, though, the who woulda thought blah blah blah person who was guarding us at the time.

Back to the early sixties with the murder of Kitty Genovese. Genovese was stabbed to death on a public street in 1964 while thirty-eight onlookers watching from their apartments out their windows did nothing to help her. Her assailant took 30 minutes to stalkand stab her to death while she screamed for help. Bibb Latane, a young doctoral student, made his career on his dissertation as to what was going on with those bystanders. Actually they were just precursors to present day onlookers who watch atrocities on TV, in theatres, and on the streets as if they were not real, as if no one is suffering.We have all been desensitized in a behavioral paradigm long long ago. So quit with the ranting about violence. And just slow down for the next roadkill and look.

Back to Blankenship's take on violence. Resevoir Dogs is often brought up here to beat Tarantino over the head. RD shows us just how stupid and boring these aging petty criminals really are. Cocky adolescent delinquents now just low mediocre getting older men who have no imagination as to how to torture or obtain a confession. Just like those peon recruits in Iraq who went to prison for doing what the uppers wanted them to do. Remember the childhood game where you were told to do something bad. If you were clever you knew you would take the blame if caught and the one who instigated it would walk. It's the same fucking game. Cover your ass. Get the jerks to do the dirty work.

So much for blaming Tarantino for gratuitous violence. The theatre scene where the Nazis will get blown up and shot mirrors the film they are watching of the young German soldier killing Americans. The flames that devour the screen and the theatre with their locked doors mirrors the Reichstag fire (German's 9-11) just before Hitler came to power but which was instigated by his stormtroopers. A beautiful parallel with a footnote to Rienzi, the Grand Opera of Wagner where flames engulf all. We know Hitler loved that opera of destruction, the tale of the last Roman Tribune. The locked doors are also the locked doors of the church where Jews were herded and burned I forget where and when but it was a crucial scene in The Reader.

I am not finished with this part yet. Continued in part 5.

Inglourious Basterds Review Part 3

Hello again. I haven't mentioned that Tarantino is the film history student par excellence. The one and only time I heard him on Charlie Rose, many years ago, he took even my breath away with his fingertip knowledge of film. Most of us know he did not finish high school, was raised by a single mom who must have encouraged his curiosity and intelligence. He worked in a video store and saw movies, movies, movies non stop. Well that's the only way you can even approach catching up on film history. And with Tarantino does it ever show. He seems to have seen everything worth seeing and chooses his influences well. Godard for example. A filmmaker's filmmaker, revered all over the world for his risk taking and daring and non-commercial attitude. Still think he's a moron?

Now I am going to try to elucidate his structural analysis. Let's start with the women because they are so beautiful and perfect in this film. Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent, whose name in the film is Shosanna Dreyfus. The significance of Dreyfus is the Dreyfus Affair. Look it up. Kruger is the German film actress, double agent for M1 in the UK, where Operation Kino (loses me on this but maybe someone will tell me)has been concocted with the Dietrich like Bridget von Hammersmark, a nice play on words again. Kruger is an actress and plays the role as an actress would play it, that is as an as if personality. Laurent is different. She is clearly controlling her feelings lest she betray herself. Her interactions are authentic. We can see her holding in her fear to avoid betraying herself. In her scene with Christoph Waltz his refined brutality is pure evil. He orders her food, a strudel confection with whipped cream on top, he an expresso, her milk. He offers her a cigarette which she accepts. These are chilling details, and they do not escape her. In the first scene before he murders the hiding Jews under the floorboards he shares drink with his victim. He drinks fresh milk and shares tobacco and Shoshanna remembers this, thus her increased fear. Does he know who she is? Does he suspect? Is this an unconscious knowing on his part? Conscious? No, on second viewing he knows. Just before he goes he says, There was something else but I seem to have forgotten it. Oh well. Hans is disciplined to his core. He drinks two glasses of milk in the first scene. But only one expresso with Shosanna. He forces her to wait until the whipped cream is brought to the table, another communication to increase her fear. He does not finish his dessert confection and stubs out his half smoked cigarette in the whipped cream which is filmed close-up. a brutal and uncouth gesture by a cultured man, done for her benefit. A sign that her youth and beauty mean nothing to him.

So now I should tell you this review is a spoiler. I am little interested in plot to keep my attention and focus. I prefer to get it out of the way so I can concentrate on how the film or book is constructed. Feelings that drive one to keep viewing or reading cause you to miss many things;hence, a second viewing is necessary for the films who deserve more attention that one viewing can offer. A Beautiful Life is one such film. Such a deconstruction of authoritarianism and how it relates to fascism is awesome. Another time and posting.

On to part 4? Yes? No?


Are you ready? As the red analysis suggests let's do talk about language. Yes Basterds is intentionally misspelled. Say it out loud the way it is spelled. It forces you to pronounce it with a British inflection. Inglourious is spelled the UK way to draw our attention to the linguistic UK on a visual plane the way Basterds does on the auditory. Still think Tarantino is a moron? (One of the commentators said that at Huff Po.)

But I am not finished by a long shot. I will concede that red lipstick, fingernails, beautiful red dresses, Nazi banners and blood are alluded to here. Far from the whole story though. The film opens with Once Upon a time....., a fairy tale. To be taken as an imaginary fluff, right? Then you haven't read Bettleheim's The Uses of Enchantment or Picola's Women Who Run With the Wolves. Fairy tales are to be taken very very seriously. In childhood and in adulthood. And it seems Tarantino thinks we still need them. We do. The film is structurally composed in chapters: like one; two; three;etc. That means: Read it like a book! It also refers to Godard, Tarantino's genius of a mentor and his French films, most of which have chapter titles.

So an entire new level opens up. Godard has been teaching his audience how to view, perceive, analyze, interpret, understand, see reality. Remember the blood all over the place in the car wrecks of Weekend? Lots of red in that one and a prescient vision of the stupidness of the auto weekends from the suburbs. But I won't go there.

Inglourious Basterds can now be seen as an incredible attempt to teach us how to see. Let's go there in part 3 if you are still with me.


After reading one miserable review of Inglourious Basterds after another with piled on criticism of Tarantino I overcame my resistance and started blogging about it. IB is not about red except in a manifest dream way. You know the way you see some object in a dream vividly colored and you remember that upon waking. Well that is part of the manifest dream content and you can analyze that. It is not the deep structure of the dream, just the surface structure. You can choose how to look at it in a Freudian or Chomskyian sense. Your choice. But at Huffington Post Regina Weinreich got frontpaged with a red analysis, and other surface inanities about the film. Here's the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/regina-weinreich/tarantinos-red_b_267178.html

The second poster that infuriates me at Huff Po is Johann Hari a columnist for London Independent who at the top of the front page rails about The Terrible Moral Emptiness of Quentin Tarantino, saying he coulda been a contender. I beg to differ. This is an extremely moral film at the cutting edge of ethics. In the sense of Camus or Sartre on the authentic personality versus the as if personality. (Think Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.) Here's the link so you can go there before you read further.

So go on to part 2 if you are still interested.